Insurance for the Long Haul
Philadelphia Inquirer (08/14/00) No. 3696 p.C1; Phillips, Shelly

Alarmed by the decline in the quality of the life of their parents, baby boomers are making long-term care (LTC) insurance part of their pre-retirement plans. However, experts urge buyers to proceed with caution. Statistics show that an alarming number of middle-age Americans are buying LTC. According to the Health Insurance Association of America, as many as 5.8 million LTC policies had been written as of June 30, 1998. Driving the trend is the fact that a growing number of baby boomers carry the responsibility--and in some cases the expense--of taking care of their sick or elderly parents, many of whom have become financially dependent on their children because their assets have been depleted by health care problems. Although the benefits of LTC are many, experts contend that the coverage carries certain gambles. Not everyone who buys LTC coverage will need it. Robert Field, director of the graduate program in health policy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, says buyers should observe certain criteria. Field encourages people under 45 to wait to see what happens with Medicare reform before buying a policy, while saving as much as possible for retirement. Buyers over 45 should look into LTC but be selective about which company they buy from. Lastly, Fields recommends that buyers secure the services of a financial adviser to make sure the insurance fits with their overall financial plan.

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